Legal Materials: Some Basics
When someone asks for information about a company, a complete answer will include:
- company profiles,
- financial data,
- news articles and
- any other information particularly relevant to that company.
Some researchers generally use the following sources, not necessarily in order, to compile a packet with a reasonable amounts of each kind of information.
It’s useful to know whether a company is public or private before you start company research. There are many ways to do this. Some researchers usually check the D&B Million Dollar Directory, where a triangle before the company’s name means it’s public.
If you need to look up the meaning of a company’s name extension (such as Ltd., B.V. N.V., etc.), visit the excellent page posted by CI: Corporate Information at https://www.corporateinformation.com/Company-Extensions-Security-Identifiers.aspx.
Legal Materials: Sources of Company Information
Following is a discussion of the general sources I’ve found useful for researching foreign companies. All country-specific information sources are discussed in the entries for each individual country.
Contact Information: To get an address and telephone number for a foreign company, look in Dun’s Principal International Businesses, the International volume of The Directory of Corporate Affiliations (in paper, on Lexis, or any other good foreign business directory you have available. Online, you can search the Kompass.com, the Dun & Bradstreet database for a GlobalSeek report, the Dun’s Market Identifiers database or an Internet foreign telephone directory (see “Telephone Numbers”).Westlaw’s BUS-TRACK database is used to locate and evaluate companies from many countries. You could also call NYPL Premium Services or another business library and ask them to look in their directories. If you’re really stuck, search the company’s name in an Internet search engine and/or place a query on the BusLib-L discussion list.
Company Reports: You can get free 1-page reports on foreign companies from the Wright Research Center. Lexis offers a database that allows you to search all of its foreign company report database at once (COMPNY;INTLCO). The Mergent International Manual provides excellent profiles of public companies from almost all foreign countries. Also, many foreign companies have D&B credit reports, which are often the best source of information for private companies (see “Dun & Bradstreet Reports”). SkyMinder provides reports from a wide collection of vendors. Some sources I haven’t tried yet: ORBIS, Worldscope, Compustat Global (for financial data),Thomson ONE Banker and Kompass.com.
Country-specific databases are discussed in the entries for individual countries.
For more detailed information on public companies you can get public filings (discussed below) and analyst reports, which consider the company with an eye to its stock value. See separate entry for “Analyst Reports.”
Company Filings: Company filings may be posted on the Web sites of the company, the relevant stock exchange and/or the relevant foreign government agency. The subscription-based Pioneer database from Perfect Information provides a database of European and Asian company filings (www.perfectinfo.com). You could also call GSI Document Retrieval (800-669-1154) or another document retrieval service to pull filings from foreign countries. For companies that sell stock in the U.S., try to find the company’s annual report (a 20-F if they file with the SEC in the U.S.).
See also the separate entry for “Annual Reports.”
Corporate Affiliations: For the corporate affiliations and locations of foreigncompanies, check the international volume of the Directory of Corporate Affiliations(available in print, on Lexis (BUSREF;DCA), Westlaw (CORP-AF) and by subscription on CorporateAffiliations.com). Alternatively, the D&B Global Corporate Linkagesdatabase is expensive but it gives the best results I’ve found. Other options: Call NYPL Premium Services, get an international D&B report and/or get an annual report (see “Annual Reports”) or other filing from the company’s web site or the relevant foreign government agency.
Company Web Sites: Generally you can find a company Web site using Google or another good search engine. Also, many company directories now provide Web addresses.
Offshore Businesses: KYC News (formerly the Offshore Business News and Research Service) sells information on incorporations civil lawsuits, bank & insurance licenses (granted or revoked), companies liquidated & more from the Cayman Islands, Bermuda & the Bahamas (with more hopefully coming soon). See also the entry for “Doing Business in Foreign Countries.”
See also “Caribbean,” “Doing Business in Foreign Countries” and individual countries by name.
Reference Sources: If you’re still lost, or if you want a more systematic approach, you could look in International Information: How to Find It, How to Use It by Ruth Pagel.
- Internet (in the World Encyclopedia)
- Internet (United States)
- Banks (United States)
- Annual Reports (United States)
- Product Reviews (and Related Information)
- Media Law
- Media Law in Asia (including India)
- Computer Law Definition
- U.S. Company Information
- Business Information (United States)
- Bond Prices
- Debt Ratings
- D&B Reports
- Finding Businesses
- Insurance Companies
- Market Research
- Market Share
- Stock Prices